Female Workers on Night Shifts Have Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

on 03/24/2013

Female workers who work night shifts may have a heightened exposure to the risk of advanced stage ovarian cancer.  According to new research, ovarian cancer risks may be much higher for night owls, or night types, than morning larks, or morning type workers.

The research was based on more than 1,100 women between the age of 35 and 74, who had suffered adverse ovarian cancer, including 390 women who have suffered a borderline version of the disease.  The women worked in various capacities in industries that have night-based shifts, like healthcare and food services.

The researchers found in their analysis that approximately 27% of the women who suffered invasive version of the cancer, worked night shifts, while among women who had a borderline version of the disease, the rate of workers on night shifts was 32%.  Among women who did not have ovarian cancer, the rate of workers working night shifts was just 22%.

Overall, the research found that working night shifts was linked to a 22% enhanced risk of contracting advanced cancer, as well as a 49% enhanced risk of contracting early-stage cancer.

Among the women who worked night shifts, 27% identified themselves as night types, and 20% identified themselves as morning types.  The risk of getting cancer varied according to the type.  For instance, among the night owls, the risk of advanced ovarian cancer was higher with a rate of 29% versus 14%.  Among these workers, the risk of borderline cancer was also higher with a rate of 57% versus 43%. 

The reason for this increased exposure to ovarian cancer could be interruption in the production of melatonin, which regulates the production of estrogen, and is produced mainly at night.

Other studies have indicated that working the night shift may also contribute to an advanced risk of breast cancer.

The work injury lawyers at Watts Guerra represent workers who have suffered injuries in accidents or due to occupational illnesses.

Tags: Workplace Injury, Toxic Exposure

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